Monday, October 29, 2012

Bonny Leibowitz: Dallas


Artist Bonny Leibowitz

Were there any early influences on your work? 

I’m originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania living in Dallas, Texas. Making art was a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mom was encouraging and possessed drawing skills as did my father, who was an inventor, developing machinery and designs for his drapery and bedspread manufacturing business. I am sure some of this history helped to foster an atmosphere of acceptance in my endeavors.

Continuum's Edge, 2011
photography, encaustic wax, monotype
on kozo and pigment on cradled board

My first work experience was developing large negatives for a commercial printer. Later, I worked for my father burning silkscreens and mixing hundreds of colors for silkscreen printing on textiles. Back then there were no mixers that calculated a color and told you how many parts of which pigments should be mixed; it was all done by eye and I’m sure that experience gave me a comfort level with color I would not have had otherwise.
I then began working in a gallery here in Dallas, learning the business, selling art and organizing exhibitions.

The QUESTion, 2012
46x46 (with variable reinforced shaped edges)
photography, encaustic wax monotype
on kozo and pigment on cradled board  

Did you receive any formal art training? 

I regularly attended figure drawing sessions at Bucks County Community College starting from the age of 14. I was always pretty passionate about art; making it and looking at it was just part of my life. Living near New York I was able to go into the city to visit the galleries and museums, which was a big plus.
I attended Temple University’s Tyler College of Art, however most of my training was not in a formal setting as I spent a great deal of time in the studio developing my work which met with a lot of “success” early on. I say “success” in quotations in that the work sold very well early on but I don’t necessarily consider sales a definitive sign of success, of course. Success now is the dedication and excitement of creating a body of work with intention, passion and a level of technical, visual and conceptual quality and a cohesive thread which allows me to explore my inner world and to share that world. Those early days gave me a lot of confidence in my work moving forward.

Biology of the Soul, 2012
photography, encaustic wax
and pigment on cradled board

What is your current work about? 

In my most recent body of work “Symbiosis”, I am exploring our physical, spiritual and psychological make-up. By recontextualizing nature, I’m inviting form and space to interact and procreate in new ways. It’s my intention to question perceptions and envision the formation of elements on fast forward as though we are watching a movie of how things came to be in time and space, yet here they are in new ways.  

Utilizing some of the great anatomical studies by DaVinci, I reveal a biological structure and create associations with organic forms such as mushrooms, plants and oceans which in some cases offer and suggest a dialogue or intercourse with one another. Some of the imagery is plush and sensual such as these large milkweed pods I’ve been drawn to. I then allow the pods to open to more aggressive forms and structures such as banyan tress and elements of Peter Paul Rubens’s “Massacre of the Innocents”, an image with great struggle, movement and emotion. In several works, Bouguereau’s “The Birth of Venus” with lovely putti in route to the heavens makes an appearance and then all elements become juxtaposed—with splashes of big pink fur in all of its very kitsch glory and compositions in which oceans, wings and mountains float about and ask if our notions of how things are is an absolute truth or a perception in this place and time.  

My work is an investigation of both a historical nature and one of ever evolving moments in our lives that effect change and create new realities.

Thinking back to your first question about early influences, I continue to think of my Mom. I can remember how I’d often make fun that her whole world was “faux”. Back when I was in grade school she covered all the furniture including the piano in in faux teakwood contact paper because she preferred it to the actual walnut. The kitchen walls were also contact paper; the 3-D pop out kind that looked like bricks. And to top it off, we had a Rembrandt on velvet. That’s what happens when you are highly creative, funny and love nice things you can’t afford …ha!  These days, I like to think she made her own world just as I do, just as we all do and just as I do in my work; creating a world revealing and sharing history, hopes, struggles and perceptions which impact relationships and create new realities.

Consider Everything, 2012
46x46 (with variable reinforced shaped edge) 
photography, encaustic wax, monotype
on kozo and pigment on cradled board

What is your workspace like? 

These days I am working between my painting studio and encaustic studio. When I work I have everything going at the same time, I’m printing imagery on my Epson 3800 onto Niyodo paper in order to collage portions of images with wax onto my surface. I’m printing to my laser printer for transfer processes usually on parchment to layer imagery adding depth. My Hotbox is warmed up and ready as I print monotypes on kozo and mulberry papers to hand tear and utilize for color and shape building composition. I use pigment sticks and very translucent layers of wax so I have heated griddles and my torch available as well. Lately I’ve been focusing thin layers of celadon and cerulean and some dull pinks that seem to speak to me along with deep umbers. Looking forward, I’m planning more dimensional works, constructions, sculpture and a collaborative installation.

Bonny's studio

Are you involved with any arts groups or communities? If yes, what do you gain from that affiliation and what do you contribute to it?

I have several friends and collectors who I’ve been enjoying going to openings here in Dallas with. Our art scene is very exciting. Dallas has some fantastic galleries and amazing artists. It’s always great to spend time looking and discussing art with passionate, knowledgeable and insightful people and to share ideas, techniques and resources with. I’ve been fortunate to have developed good relationships with a few artists I respect which I go to on occasion for critical feedback.  

I can say I am part of many communities including artists who work in encaustic wax. Having opened The Encaustic Center in 2009 has opened doors to a whole new world for me. I’ve been fortunate to have world class artists, experts in their field, here to the center for three day workshops, demos and talks. Attending and being part of the International Encaustic Conference was a rich and rewarding experience. I gave a demo and workshop there at the conference this past year in Provincetown and look forward to attending again.

It’s become an ever deepening priority for me to visit artists in other cities, visit the galleries and to develop bonds that will allow us to share art related ideas and opportunities.

My recent exhibition at Cohn Drennan Contemporary, here in Dallas was completely thrilling. After an intense year or more of hard work on my most recent series “Symbiosis”, the exhibition was well received with a mention in the Dallas Morning News by Michael Granberry and a great review by Todd Camplin, independent writer featured in Modern Dallas and I enjoy a greater bond with the galleries, clients and peers now.

photography, encaustic wax, monotype on
kozo and pigment on cradled board

How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?

I’ve met many artists through facebook I would not have otherwise had an opportunity to be introduced to so readily. It’s fantastic to be able to connect, view and experience the art world this way. I’ve spoken with artists about process and shared notes of admiration, suggested galleries and been invited to participate in exhibits through these connections including Fresh Faces curated by Rita Barnard last year. I place a lot of importance on giving back; announcing calls for submission, shows by friends and sharing techniques and resources.  One interesting group has been “50 Contemporary Artists”. Tim Phelan invited me to become one of the artists in this book which has not been published but I am now enjoying the work of many artists included and their posts through this connection.

I am involved with donating to Art and Advocacy. This is a fundraiser for children of abuse via the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center. Many exciting Dallas artists participate for a great cause.

Engage, 2012
photography, encaustic wax and oil
pigment on cradled board

Do you have any shows coming up that you'd like to mention?

Yes, I am quite pleased my most recent body of work, Symbiosis has been chosen for an exhibition at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art!

Here are the details:

Bonny Leibowitz: Symbiosis

Gallery Reception and talk: Friday, November 9, 6-8 pm
Exhibition dates: November 9, 2012-January 25, 2013

Danny Bills
Curator of Collections and Exhibitions
Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University
2 Eureka Circle
Wichita Falls, Texas


Do you have other jobs other than making art? If so, please give us some details.
I own and operate two private teaching studios, The Bonny Studio and The Encaustic Center. 

At The Bonny Studio; I teach classes in acrylic and oil painting building techniques while fostering individuality and growth from beginner to more advanced levels and assist artists in getting their work into the public eye.  I also offer drawing and sculpture workshops conducted by Guest artist Michael O‘keefe. 

At The Encaustic Center I teach encaustic wax painting, specializing in collage, transfers, painterly effects, texture, pours and monotypes. The Encaustic Center also offers workshops specializing in stencils, masks and 3-D work by Deanna Wood, transfer techniques by Susan Sponsler and a variety of line pattern and concept based workshops by Brett Dyer. Additionally, The Encaustic Center offers two 3-day workshops per year by renowned guest artists for their area of expertise. To date we’ve had Miles Conrad, Deborah Kapoor and Paula Roland to name a few and are looking forward to having Jeff Hirst here in March of 2013. We have more amazing artists slated through 2015!

You can see more of Bonny's work on her website,
Thank you!


bettyb said...

Beautiful art by a beautiful person! Your paintings and sculptures truly reflect your intuitive perspectives.

Helen DeRamus said...

Thank you for this interview. I found her words fascinating and her work extraordinary.

LynetteH said...

Thank you Betty and Helen. I find Bonny's work very soulful and I wish I could see the show coming up.

bonny leibowitz said...

Thank you Betty, Helen and Lynette, I so appreciate your comments and I do feel I was able to truly express my thoughts and feeling on the work here. Of course the work is deeply felt and it's wonderful to connect with those who may be of like mind and see the value of the concepts and techniques! All the best to you, Bonny